Reforming Myanmar’s Economy: International Dimensions and the Deep State

About the Seminar

In 2016 the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi came into government in Myanmar. Elected on the promise of a new political era, the NLD’s economic platform was no less ambitious in its pledge of dramatic reform. Such reform was desperately needed in a country for fifty years under the sway of erratic military rule and socialist dogma, but from the outset the task was not assumed to be an easy one. Thus it has proved. This presentation will examine the progress of economic reform in Myanmar, the obstacles to it, and the current state of the country’s economy. Special attention will be paid to Myanmar’s economic reforms in their international dimension, and to key relations in Asia, in the West, and to China. The steep challenges the Government faces will be squarely addressed, as will the reasons for new-found hope in Myanmar’s reform trajectory.

About the Speaker

Sean Turnell is Director of Research at the Myanmar Development Institute in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.  He is also Special Economic Consultant to the State Counsellor, Government of Myanmar. Sean has been a researcher of Myanmar’s economy for over twenty-five years. Formerly at the Reserve Bank of Australia and a Professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Sean has written widely on Myanmar’s economy. In addition to the Myanmar government, he has been an advisor on Myanmar to the US State Department and other agencies, to USAID, to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to the World Bank, and many other international bodies. Sean’s book on the history of the financial sector in Myanmar, “Fiery Dragons: Banks, Moneylenders and Microfinance in Burma” (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2009) which was impactful for many seeking to understand Myanmar’s financial sector reforms. Sean has been a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, as well as ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 29 July 2019


Jul 30 2019


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2